Romans 6:2
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
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(2) That are dead.—Rather, that died. It is well to bear in mind Dr. Lightfoot’s remarks on the importance of keeping the strict aorist sense as opposed to that of the perfect (i.e., the single past action as opposed to the prolonged or continued action) in passages such as this. “St. Paul regards this change—from sin to righteousness, from bondage to freedom, from death to life—as summed up in one definite act of the past; potentially to all men in our Lord’s passion and resurrection, actually to each individual man when he accepts Christ, is baptised into Christ. Then he is made righteous by being incorporated into Christ’s righteousness, he dies once for all to sin, he lives henceforth for ever to God. This is his ideal. Practically, we know that the death to sin and the life to righteousness are inchoate, imperfect, gradual, meagerly realised even by the most saintly men in this life; but St. Paul sets the matter in this ideal light to force upon the consciences of his hearers the fact that an entire change came over them when they became Christians—that the knowledge and the grace then vouchsafed to them did not leave them where they were—that they are not, and cannot be, their former selves—and that it is a contradiction of their very being to sin any more. It is the definiteness, the absoluteness of this change, considered as an historical crisis, which forms the central idea of St. Paul’s teaching, and which the aorist marks. We cannot, therefore, afford to obscure this idea by disregarding the distinctions of grammar; yet in our English version it is a mere chance whether in such cases the aorist is translated as an aorist” (On Revision, p. 85). These remarks will form the best possible commentary upon the passage before us. It may be only well to add that the change between the position of the first Christians and our own involves a certain change in the application of what was originally said with reference to them. Baptism is not now the tremendous crisis that it was then. The ideal of Christian life then assumed is more distinctly an ideal. It has a much less definite hold upon the imagination and the will. But it ought not therefore to be any the less binding upon the Christian. He should work towards it, if he cannot work from it, in the spirit of Philippians 3:12-14.

It would be well for the reader to note at once the corrections suggested in the rendering of this verse by Dr. Lightfoot’s criticism:—In Romans 6:4, “we were buried” for “we are buried;” in Romans 6:6, “the old man was crucified” for “is crucified;” in Romans 6:8, “if we died” for “if we be dead.”

6:1,2 The apostle is very full in pressing the necessity of holiness. He does not explain away the free grace of the gospel, but he shows that connexion between justification and holiness are inseparable. Let the thought be abhorred, of continuing in sin that grace may abound. True believers are dead to sin, therefore they ought not to follow it. No man can at the same time be both dead and alive. He is a fool who, desiring to be dead unto sin, thinks he may live in it.God forbid - By no means. Greek, It may not be; Note, Romans 3:4. The expression is a strong denial of what is implied in the objection in Romans 6:1.

How shall we? ... - This contains a reason of the implied statement of the apostle, that we should not continue in sin. The reason is drawn from the fact that we are dead in fact to sin. It is impossible for these who are dead to act as if they were alive. It is just as absurd to suppose that a Christian should desire to live in sin as that a dead man should put forth the actions of life.

That are dead to sin - That is, all Christians. To be dead to a thing is a strong expression denoting that it has no influence over us. A man that is dead is uninfluenced and unaffected by the affairs of this life. He is insensible to sounds, and tastes, and pleasures; to the hum of business, to the voice of friendship, and to all the scenes of commerce, gaiety, and ambition. When it is said, therefore, that a Christian is dead to sin, the sense is, that it has lost its influence ever him; he is not subject to it; he is in regard to that, as the man in the grave is to the busy scenes and cares of this life. The expression is not infrequent in the New Testament; Galatians 2:19, "For I dead to the law;" Colossians 3:3, "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God;" 1 Peter 2:24, "Who ...bare our sins ...that we, being dead to sin," etc. The apostle does not here attempt to prove that Christians are thus dead, nor to state in what way they become so. He assumes the fact without argument. All Christians are thus in fact dead to sin. They do not live to sin; nor has sin dominion over them. The expression used here by the apostle is common in all languages. We familiarly speak of a man's being dead to sensual pleasures, to ambition, etc., to denote that they have lost their influence over him.

Live any longer therein - How shall we, who have become sensible of the evil of sin, and who have renounced it by solemn profession, continue to practice it? It is therefore abhorrent to the very nature of the Christian profession. It is remarkable that the apostle did not attempt to argue the question on metaphysical principles. He did not attempt to show by abstruse argument that this consequence did not follow; but he appeals at once to Christian feeling, and shows that the supposition is abhorrent to that. To convince the great mass of people, such an appeal is far better than labored metaphysical argumentation. All Christians can understand that; but few would comprehend an abstruse speculation. The best way to silence objections is, sometimes, to show that they violate the feelings of all Christians, and that therefore the objection must be wrong.

(Considerable difficulty exists in regard to the meaning of the expression "dead to sin? Certainly the most obvious interpretation is that given above in the Commentary, namely, that Christians are insensible to sin, as dead persons to the charms and pleasures of life. It has, however, been objected to this view, that it is inconsistent with fact, since Christians, so far from being insensible to sin, are represented in the next chapter as carrying on a perpetual struggle with it. The corrupt nature, though weakened, is not eradicated, and too frequently occasions such mournful falls, as leave little doubt concerning its existence and power. Mr. Scott seems to have felt this difficulty, for, having explained the phrase of "separation from iniquity, as a dead man ceases from the actions of life," he immediately adds, "not only ought this to be the believer's character, but in a measure it actually is so." It is not probable. however, that the apostle meant by the strong expression under discussion, that believers were not altogether "dead to sin," but only in a measure.

Perhaps we shall arrive at a more satisfactory meaning of the words by looking at the analogous expression in the context, used in reference to Christ himself. He also, in the 10th verse, is said to have "died unto sin," and the believer, in virtue of union with Christ, is regarded as" dead with him," Romans 6:8; and, in consequence of this death with Christ, is moreover freed, or rather justified, δεδίκαιωται dedikaiōtai from sin, Romans 6:7. Now it cannot be said of Christ that he died unto sin, in the sense of becoming dead to its charms. for it was never otherwise with him. The believer, therefore, cannot be dead with Christ in this way; nor on this ground, can he be justified from sin, since justification proceeds upon something very different from our insensibility to sinful pleasures. What then is the meaning of the language when applied to Christ? Sin is here supposed to be possessed of certain power. That power or strength the apostle tells us elsewhere is derived from the Law. "The strength of sin is the law," which demands satisfaction to its injured honor, and insists on the infliction of its penalty. Though then Jesus had no sin of his own, yet when he voluntarily stood in the room of sinners, sin, or its strength, namely, the Law, had power over him, until he died, and thus paid the penalty. His death cancelled every obligation. Henceforth, sin had no more power to exact anything at his hands.

Now Christians are one with Christ. When he died unto sin, they are regarded as having died unto it also, and are therefore, equally with their covenant head, justified from it. Sin, or its strength, the Law, has from the moment of the saint's union with Christ, no more power to condemn him, than human laws have to condemn one over again who had already died to answer the demands of justice. "The law has dominion over a man so long only as he liveth." On the whole, then, the expression "dead to sin," is to be regarded as entirely parallel with that other expression in the seventh chapter, "dead to the law," that is, completely delivered from its authority as a covenant of works, and more especially from its power to condemn.

This view exercises a decided influence an the believer's sanctification. "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" The two things are incompatible. If in virtue of union with Christ, we are dead with him, and freed from the penalty of sin, shall not the same union secure our deliverance from its dominion? "If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him."

The whole argument, from the 1st to the 11th verse, proceeds upon the fact of the saint's union with Christ.)

2. God forbid—"That be far from us"; the instincts of the new creature revolting at the thought.

How shall we, that are dead, &c.—literally, and more forcibly, "We who died to sin (as presently to be explained), how shall we live any longer therein?"

God forbid; be it not, or far be it; he rejects any such inference or consequence, as unworthy of an answer: q.d. Away with all such doctrines, as, under pretence of advancing grace, do promote sin, or obstruct a godly life. This phrase is frequent with the apostle, when he is speaking of any absurdity: see Romans 3:4,6,31.

How: by this particle he shows the impossibility, or the incongruity, of the thing: see Matthew 6:28 Galatians 4:9. The following argument is very convincing, and may be thus formed: They whose property it is to be dead to sin, cannot any longer live therein; but the justified by faith are

dead to sin. They are said to be dead to sin, who do not live under the power and dominion of it; who mortify sin, and suffer it (so far as they can) to have no life or power in it. Fall into it they may, but live and lie in it they cannot. It is not falling into the water that drowns a man, but it is his lying in it; so it is not falling into sin that damns a man, but it is his living in it.

God forbid,.... By which he expresses his abhorrence of such a practice, and that this was a consequence which did not follow from the premises, and was far enough from his thoughts, and which he had in the greatest detestation: and he further argues against it by asking,

how shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? There is a death for sin, a death in sin, and a death to sin; the latter is here mentioned, and persons may be said to be "dead to sin", both as justified and sanctified: justified persons are dead to sin, inasmuch as that is not imputed to them to condemnation and death; they are discharged from it; it cannot hurt them, or exert its damning power over them; it is crucified, abolished, and made an end of by Christ: sanctified persons are dead to sin; sin is not made their business, it is not their course of life; it is no longer a pleasure to them, but is loathsome and abominable; it is looked upon, not as a friend, but an enemy; it does not reign, it has not the dominion over them; it is subdued in them, and its power weakened; and as to the members of the flesh, and deeds of the body, it is mortified: to live in sin, is to live after the dictates of corrupt nature; and persons may be said to live in it, when they give up themselves to it, are bent upon it; when sin is their life, they delight in it, make it their work and business, and the whole course of their life is sinful: now those who are dead to sin, cannot thus live in it, though sin may live in them; they may fall into sin, and lie in it some time, yet they cannot live in it: living in sin, is not only unbecoming the grace of God revealed in the Gospel, but is contrary to it; it is detestable to gracious minds, yea, it seems impossible they should live in it; which is suggested by this question, "how shall we?" &c. The thing is impracticable: for, for a gracious soul to live in sin, would be to die again, to become dead in sin, which cannot be; he that lives and believes in Christ shall never die, spiritually or eternally.

God forbid. {2} How shall we, that are {b} dead to sin, live any longer therein?

(2) The benefits of justification and sanctification are always inseparable joined together, and both of them proceed from Christ by the grace of God: now sanctification is the abolishing of sin, that is, of our natural corruption, whose place is taken by the cleanness and pureness of a reformed nature.

(b) They are said by Paul to be dead to sin, who are made partakers of the power of Christ, so that the natural corruption is dead in them, that is, the power of it is removed, and it does not bring forth its bitter fruits: and on the other hand, they are said to live to sin, who are in the flesh, that is, whom the Spirit of God has not delivered from the slavery of the corruption of nature.

Romans 6:2. Μὴ γένοιτο] Let it not be (see on Romans 3:4), namely, that we continue in sin.

οἵτινες] as those who, contains the reason (of the πῶς ἔτι κ.τ.λ[1381]). See on Romans 1:25. The relative clause is put first with rhetorical emphasis, in order at once to make the absurdity of the maxim plainly apparent. Comp Kühner, II. 2, p. 1104; Bernhardy, p. 299.

ἀπεθάν. τ. ἁμαρτ.] The dying to sin, which took place by baptism (see Romans 6:3), is the abandonment of all life-communion with it experienced in himself by the convert (Colossians 2:20; Galatians 2:19; Galatians 6:14; 1 Peter 2:24). comp Theodoret: ἠρνήθης, φησὶ, τὴν ἁμαρτίαν καὶ νεκρὸς αὐτῇ γέγονας. This moral change, which has taken place in him, has put an end to the determining influence of sin over him; in relation to it he has ceased to be still in life. Similar is the Platonic conception in Macrob. Somn. Scip. i. 13 : “mori etiam dicitur, cum anima adhuc in corpore constituta corporeas illecebras philosophia docente contemnit et cupiditatum dulces insidias reliquasque omnes exuit passiones.” Michaelis, Cramer, Storr, Flatt, Nitzsch (de discr. revelat. etc. II. p. 233) take the sense to be: we who on account of sin have died (with Christ), i.e. who have to regard ourselves as if, on account of sin (or Nitzsch: “ad eripiendam peccati vim mortiferam”), we had ourselves endured what Christ suffered. But in this view the main point “with Christ” is arbitrarily imported; and see Romans 6:11.

πῶς] denotes the possibility which is negatived by the question. The having died to sin, and the living in it (as the life-element, comp Galatians 2:20), are mutually exclusive.

ζήσομεν] purely future. How is it possible that we shall be living in it (in its fellowship) still (ἔτι), namely, at any future time whatever after the occurrence of that ἀπεθάνομεν? The very weakly attested reading preferred by Hofmann, ζήσωμεν, is only a case of mechanical conformity with ἐπιμένωμεν in Romans 6:1.

[1381] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

Romans 6:2. μὴ γένοιτο, cf. Romans 3:4. οἵτινες ἀπεθάνομεν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ: the relative is qualitative: “we, being as we are persons who died to sin”. For the dative, see Romans 6:10-11, and Winer, p. 263. To have died to sin is to be utterly and for ever out of any relation to it. πῶς ἔτι ζήσομεν; how after that shall we live in it? impossible.

2. we, that are dead, &c.] More lit. and fully, we, as those who died to sin. The reference is again to a single past act; the death of the Second Adam, at which His brethren too, regarded as “in Him,” “died to sin.” See last note on ch. Romans 5:12.

dead to sin] See below, Romans 6:10 : “He died to sin, once and for ever.” It appears then that our “death to sin” (in Christ) must be explained by what His death to it was. And His was a death such as to free Him not from its impulses (for He was essentially free from them) but from its claim, its penalty, endured for us by Him. His death once over, the claim of sin was cancelled[36]. Therefore, for those who “died in Him,” it was cancelled likewise. The phrase thus has, in the strict sense of it, not a moral but a legal reference. But the transition to a moral reference is inevitable when the Redeemer’s Death is seen to be the act which exhausted the claim: in that death we see not only the strength of the claim, but the malignity of the claimant.

[36] Sin here, obviously, is used as a practical synonym for the broken Law; but so that its proper meaning is ready at once to reappear. Properly, sin’s only “claim” is to be itself put down; but by a natural modification it appears as that which exacts the punishment of the sinner.

live any longer therein] “Live” is emphatic, in contrast to “dead.” St Paul puts it as inconceivable that the soul which is so freed from such claim can endure, after its death in Christ to sin, (or, in other words, after His death to sin for it,) to yield its faculties as before to sin’s influence.—Strictly, death and life are used here in different respects; death in a legal respect, life in a moral; but see last note for the reconcilement of the seeming inconsistency.—“Therein:”—surrounded by it, as the body by the air it breathes; in vital connexion.

Romans 6:2. Ἀπεθάνομεν, we are dead) in baptism and justification.

Verse 2. - God forbid! (Μὴ γένοιτο: St. Paul's usual way of rejecting an idea indignantly). We who (οἵτινες, with its proper meaning of being such as) died (not, as in the Authorized Version, "are dead." The reference is to the time of baptism, as appears from what follows) to sin, how shall we live any longer therein! The idea of dying to sin in the sense of having done with it, is found also in Macrob., 'Somn. Scip.,' 1:13 (quoted by Meyer), "Mori etiam dicitur, cum anima adhuc in corpora constituta corporeas illecebras philosophia docente contemnit et cupiditatum dulces insidias reliquasque omnes exuit passiones." Romans 6:2
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